Magic Johnson reveals story of Michael Jordan telling him to retire after return from HIV diagnosis

Peter Dewey
2 Min Read

Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson revealed that Michael Jordan told him to retire after the Lakers guard returned to the NBA following his HIV diagnosis.

After a game against Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in the 1995-96 season, Jordan suggested that Johnson should retire since he didn’t have the same supporting cast around him in Los Angeles.

“Michael, after that game, he pulled me aside – I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody this,” Johnson said. “He met me in between the locker rooms, and he said, ‘Earvin, you have to remember now, you’re not with Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], you’re not with James Worthy. All the guys you used to play with, Showtime, are not on that Laker team anymore. So remember, maybe you should think about retiring.’”

Johnson played for the Lakers from the 1979-80 season through the 1990-91 season before he was diagnosed with HIV. Johnson decided to walk away from the league prior to the 1991-92 season.

He sat out four straight seasons before returning for the second half of the 1995-96 season. Johnson wound up appearing in 32 games, making nine starts, but he stepped away from the NBA for good after that season.

In the 1995-96 campaign, Johnson averaged 14.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game while shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from beyond the arc.

Johnson did go on to say that Jordan was right to recommend that he retire, but the Lakers guard still is one of the greatest players in NBA history despite his having his career cut short.

The Hall of Famer won five NBA titles and three league MVP awards in his storied career. He will forever go down as one of the most important players in franchise history.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.